The importance of dental hygiene in dogs
Did you know that the most common disease in dogs and cats is periodontal disease?
It is a disease that slowly and progressively affects the mouth of our pets. It can be divided into two stages: gingivitis (gum inflammation, the initial, reversible phase) and periodontitis (inflammation of the tooth support structures, irreversible but controllable).
What is the cause of periodontal disease, and how does it affect our pets?
The main cause is the accumulation of bacterial plaque on the teeth. Dental malocclusion and poor hygiene can favour such accumulation. The consequences include: bad breath, pain and difficulty chewing, and tooth loss, and it has also been associated with liver, kidney and heart disease.
This last consequence is the reason why the oral health of our pets is so important. Beyond preventing periodontal disease, we help to prevent many other diseases and to improve their well-being.
Treatment and prevention of periodontal disease
Regular veterinary control is recommended to assess the state of our pet’s dental health and to indicate preventative measures and/or the most appropriate treatment for their case (teeth cleaning may be required).
As owners, our role in preventing the disease is essential, and is based on plaque control. The most effective preventive measure is tooth brushing. The most strongly-recommended technique in both human and veterinary medicine is the Modified Bass technique. We place the brush at a 45º angle at the junction of the tooth with the gum, making gentle circular movements, then sweeping downwards on the upper jaw and upwards on the bottom jaw. There are brushes specifically designed for pets on the market, and even finger brushes to make this easier.
Furthermore, there are also a wide range of oral sprays, dental snacks and chews to help us to prevent plaque. In addition, both snacks and chews can be useful for strengthening the muscles of mastication and just for fun.
We have seen how oral health can affect the rest of the body. Therefore, being constant with our pet’s dental hygiene not only helps us to control the progression of periodontal disease, but it also promotes greater longevity and quality of life.